(NEW YORK) – Elon Musk’s SpaceX is preparing to send an astronaut crew to the International Space Station for the fourth time.
The mission, dubbed Crew-3, will transport NASA astronauts Raja Chari, Tom Marshburn and Kayla Barron, as well as European Space Agency astronaut Matthias Maurer, to the ISS for a six-month stay in orbit.
The space flight was twice delayed. It has been moved from Sunday to Wednesday due to weather conditions and will now only launch on Saturday November 6 at the earliest due to a “minor medical issue involving one of its crew,” NASA said .
“The problem is not a medical emergency and is unrelated to COVID-19,” the agency said on Monday.
Three of the four crew members will take to space for the very first time.
The veteran of the mission is Marshburn. The doctor and former NASA flight surgeon, on his third trip to space, said the research could one day answer bigger questions about human existence.
“It’s each of us who looked at the night sky and asked ourselves, ‘How does the universe work and how did life come to our planet Earth?’” Marshburn told ABC News.
Barron, an astronaut with experience on submarines, said her time in the Navy had helped her prepare for this moment – and that she created a reading list for the outing. .
“There are some big millennial favorites on my reading list and flashbacks to the ’90s,” she joked.
They will be launched aboard SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft and Falcon 9 rocket.
The crew is expected to spend 22 hours in the capsule before docking with the ISS. The team decided to call the new capsule “Endurance” – a tribute to the human spirit and to a historic sailing ship used by Antarctic explorer Ernest Shackleton.
SpaceX successfully launched two NASA astronauts to the ISS for the first time in June 2020, which allowed them to continue flying with their rocket and Crew Dragon. It was the first crewed cruiser to leave American soil in nearly a decade.
Last month, SpaceX’s Inspiration4 mission made history as civilians traveled the greatest distance from Earth – 367 miles – even farther than the International Space Station.
But during this flight, they discovered an issue with the toilet inside the Crew Dragon that nearly hindered the launch of Crew-3. A tube came off and spilled urine on fans under the floor.
“It had no impact on Inspiration4,” SpaceX vice president William Gerstenmair said at a press conference. “We didn’t even really notice it, the crew didn’t notice it, until we picked up the vehicle and looked under the ground and saw the fact that there was a contamination.”
The engineers finally fixed the problem.
SpaceX is tasked with launching up to six crewed flights for NASA, with two more slated for 2022.
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